The £400 million promised for hospital services in west Hertfordshire by Prime Minister Boris Johnson would not be enough to build a new hospital, county councillors have been told.

Earlier this month, it was confirmed the money would be available to west Hertfordshire to develop hospital services.

That commitment was echoed days later when Prime Minister Boris Johnson toured existing facilities at Watford General Hospital.

Health bosses had already submitted a £350 million bid, and that would retain Watford General, St Albans City and Hemel Hempstead hospitals, with the bulk of the investment focussed on Watford General.

A long-running campaign has called for an all-new A&E hospital to be built on a fresh site between Watford, Hemel Hempstead and St Albans, rather than refurbishing existing buildings.

But on Wednesday (October 16), health chiefs told county councillors that this promise of an additional £50 million was still not enough to consider building a new hospital.

They told members of the council’s health scrutiny committee that the promised £400 million was not in addition to funds that health commissioners had applied for, as some people had believed.

This funding would be a loan, rather than a grant – meaning health chiefs would have to pay back millions of pounds every year.

Herts Valleys chief executive Kathryn Magson said: “It’s £400 million - it’s not in addition. Ultimately £400 million doesn’t give us the ability to build a new hospital.”

Cllr Fiona Guest – who is also a member of Dacorum Council – asked how the Princess Alexandra Hospital, in Harlow, was able to plan for a new build hospital when west Hertfordshire couldn’t.

Herts Valleys CCG chief executive Kathryn Magson said there were differences between the business cases of the two organisations, but both would have to follow the same rules and guidelines.

“Ultimately our responsibility is to progress and get the best for west Hertfordshire patients – and we can only comment on our ‘strategic outline case’,” she said.

Ms Magson also told councillors that one of the key tests in the allocation of funds was whether it was "affordable"  to pay back.

Even on an allocation of £350 million, she said west Hertfordshire would have to pay back £16 million a year, “so efficiency savings would be significant”.

Ms Magson also confirmed to councillors that over the summer they had been asked to explore the possibility of a proposal that would invest in Watford General and a new planned care centre.

Councillors were told that if the proposal was to change to a two site plan, it would require public consultation.

At the start of the meeting councillors were told that a resident had applied for a Judicial Review – and as a result of that process they may be restricted on what they could say.

No date for the judicial review hearing has yet been set.